Continuing Saga - THE STROKE THAT SAVED MY LIFE

 

Anyone experiences loss. This is my story. I always felt like a “motherless child”, for my mother died when I was only three days old. Abandon, deserted and discarded. The father shipped me around from my maternal grandparents to my paternal aunt. I wasn’t baptized until 9, on the occasion of my half brother’s christening, when I ended up with a brand new mom, and my own father. But the baptism started my God aware\concisions days.

I was married at 18 to, what turned out to be, a rage-alcoholic. Thirty-eight years of a negative life style, for both of us, but I bought him to the Lord a week before he died. My husband died in 2000 at 58, from a stroke. Up on cloud nine for one moment, from his conversion, and down to depth of hell. The pain in my chest was real. Abandoned again.

I continued to do pretty much what I wanted, but I floundered around with the “new found freedom”. I sang with different choirs, painted in watercolor, and wrote like a crazy woman: fantasy. I could not deal with reality, and I gained weight, hand over fist on the way to my mouth, and high blood pressure.

My husband and I had bought a tract of land overlooking the boundary between Ohio and West Virginia; Almost Heaven. We were supposed to build a retirement home there. I started a landscape quilt of that 45 acres property. This was especially significant because of what happened next.

 

My stroke hit on June 11 of 2008. I was 64. My right side was affected, and my speaking voice, and my singing voice, was taken away. I couldn’t focus my eyes well enough to read, and I had been a right handed painter.

 

When I arrived at the hospital, I learned phrases like Aphasia/Apraxia (inability to speak-[I made funny sounds; squeaks + groans]), and arterial fibrillation-AFib (irregular heart beat). Eventually, the doctors put a shunt in my left arm for ease in the delivery of drugs, and a feeding tube right into my stomach because I could not swallow or they were worried that I might choke; aspirate and end up with pneumonia. I was in pretty bad shape, but the doctors and nurses saved my life.

 

My three sons did their part; they got the ‘word’ out by email, and I received hundreds cards and a host of prays.Things moved quickly. One week in intensive care, then right away into the rehab unit local hospital. There were three pastors that came; the minister of the Methodist Church, the pastor of the Nazarene Church and the chaplain of the hospital. Thanks to them, I maintained my spiritual connection.

I took on rehab with determination despite the tubing in the holes in my arm and tummy, and I had a wheelchair. From 9 to 5, everyday, I wheeled myself, one-handed, down the hall from my room to therapy. Physical, where we worked on walking, and occupational – where we worked on the upper body, my right arm. Last, speech, where I practiced tongue exercises and I learned to pronounce my first word, “BEE”. The rehab lasted almost 5 weeks. I did well.

 

After moving into an assisted living facility with my wheelchair and the feeding tube, I challenged myself with quilting; a lazy curved, green/white, 9 blocks, about 12ins. It actually came-out fairly well. Neat!

Through misadventures I learned how to paint with my left hand, struggled to read slowly, and even more slowly to type . . . to write. The stroke really messed-up my spelling, but I always had trouble with that. Sometimes I wouldn’t know how to begin words either. It even happens today.

One time I ‘battled’ through too much medicine; the mind altering drug Zoloft. I had the feeding tube “yanked out” of my belly. After awhile, I won the right to self medicate; give myself my own pills. The night nurse, Bobby, called me her hero.

 

Now I walk on my own, no walker or quad-cane, and I lost 100 lbs . . . all this in a year and a half. The Light-Writer gives me the freedom to “talk” electronically. Some people call it the “Speak & Spell”, but it doesn’t have “spell-check”. And with no less than 6 speech therapists, one right after another, I learned how to speak very slowly . . . simple words. I still have trouble with the letters G and C/K. I don’t say GOOD morning, but “Morning”. I don’t say God, but Lord.

 

Right now, I am working on the 4th quilt. This is a major effort: cutting strips with the effected right hand and arm on the ruler, and left hand gripping the handle of the rotary cutting. As well as standing at the ironing board, and sitting at the sewing machine with my left foot on the pedal and the left hand guiding the fabric.

The stroke turned things around. I was forced to accept help. Everyone bent over backwards in their attempt to tend to me. I was not used to it, but I relished it, soaked in it, lacquered in the attention everybody gave me. I made friends with everybody and slowly the negative life style lay down. Every once in a while “it” resurfaced, but less and less as the time goes by.

Because of this attention, I bloomed. I tried painting. I had sales. I won prizes with my painting, and people are amazed that I can quilt. I ended up buying myself a new sewing machine, a computerized embroidery/quilting machine; Baby Lock.

 

Things paired down. Before the stroke, I wallowed myself on a host of different projects; singing, painting, novels writing and quilting. Now I only pay attention to designing quilts. I love the time spent writing because it taught me how to express myself; literally, and it brought my mind into focus. Just recently, I finished my Faerie Tale: The Dragon Isles. I’m in the process of having the book published. Praise the Lord! I lean on him everyday. It’s a wonderful life. JGS